Volume 9, November 2013

Steven D SchroederView Contributor’s Note


No, not smell that honeysuckle!
or what a refreshing Coke!
or you solved the equation for oxygen!
As the only plants that manufactured
air outsourced to Singapore,
our breath burst, swarmed, burned,
turned every vowel plosive,
laughed a feral mongrel’s cough.
When it vented verbs skyward,
we exhaled jet fuel and ozone holes.
When it ran low at grocery stores,
the choice was paper or plastic bags
for our faces. Autoerotic asphyxiation
became a requirement for citizenship.
Smoker’s rattle became a choir.
Tracheotomies became a crime
also known as doctors’ neckties.
Children who heard curses
like holy alveoli learned the meaning
of double standard for repeating them.
When bellows no longer sang
names in lockup, the hacks pumped
our lungs. We held our breath
prisoner under shark-tank water,
but it escaped, the feds said
in the wind. We couldn’t sucker it
with a hundred hundred vacuums.
It phoned from inside the house
to pant and moan, to taunt us,
and we couldn’t utter goodbye
without the voice it dangled.
We couldn’t catch our breath again
no matter how many strangular traps
hangmen strung up in the rafters.
Our last gasp wasn’t enough.
Our last words were enough
and rope, we all screamed.